Having been raised in Oklahoma, I have been to a fair number of farms and ranches and ridden my share of horses. However, my stay at Rancho Oso proved to be one of the most complete Western experiences of my life thus far! Rancho Oso, located outside of Santa Barbara California in the Santa Ynez Mountains, is a historic, working ranch and a campground.
The location, in spite of being only a twenty minute drive away from Santa Barbara and the coast, feels very remote. We saw a number of wild animals including wild turkey, lizards, prairie dogs and deer. Thankfully, we did not see any rattlesnakes in spite of the signs warning us of their presence. There were a number of activities our family enjoyed including horse back riding, feeding the livestock, a bucking bulls show, a barbecue dinner and an ice cream social!
The only downside of the remote location was we had very limited cell service and virtually no means to work wirelessly. Thankfully, it was the weekend so this was not as much of an issue. Dave did have to drive to Santa Barbara one day to do a few hours of work in a cafe.
For the days you want a change of scenery there are a number of beaches located within a thirty minute drive. We spent one day at Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara. The beach itself was beautiful! The only thing it lacked was a public restroom. We ended up using the facilities at the Santa Barbara Biltmore which really was not a hardship after all. In the afternoon I left Dave and the children building sandcastles on the beach and enjoyed a Montecito Mojito in Biltmore Bella Vista Restaurant while I wrote a blog post. That might have been my most relaxing hour of the trip!
When it was time to pack up camp and "go forth", Rancho Oso was the first campground I was sad to leave. I speak for all 5 of us in saying it was our favorite place to stay so far! If given the opportunity we will definitely return! In the meantime, however, we will "go forth" (somewhat reluctantly) to the next adventure!